Washington, D.C. – A sobering new report from RAINN looks at the state of sexual violence and post-rape care in six African nations: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Based on limited data available from the United Nations, lifetime rates of sexual violence vary from 17% in Nigeria to more than 50% in the DRC.
Following discussions with African criminal justice professionals about issues of sexual violence, where discussion of resources were a recurring and urgent need, RAINN set out to study the availability of comprehensive post-rape care for survivors, and the capacity to hold offenders accountable through DNA evidence.
The report features a foreword by Nobel Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of the Panzi Hospital and Foundation in the DRC, and research and an initial draft were provided by Professor Theresa Akpoghome and her team on the ground in Nigeria, in collaboration with RAINN.
While the report highlights glaring barriers to and disparities in survivors’ access to post-rape care, it also offers recommendations on how to improve support for survivors by providing resources directly to in-country stakeholders and service providers.
Sexual Violence in Six African Nations: A Call for Investment highlights five key findings:
- Existing hospitals and healthcare facilities need additional funding to maintain infrastructure and make capital improvements.
- At least $5 million is needed for immediate renovations to Panzi Hospital, as well as funding to increase capacity at Heal Africa’s hospital fistula wing.
- Additional one-stop centers are needed, particularly in the DRC, Tanzania, and Egypt.
- Existing one-stop centers should integrate the use of sexual assault kits to collect evidence in the course of providing healthcare.
- Funding is needed to provide kits and train medical professionals at existing centers and to increase the number of centers.
4. Establishing a sustainable DNA laboratory in the DRC is a long-term goal.
- In the interim, funding is needed for infrastructure to transport samples to existing labs in nearby countries such as Uganda or Kenya.
- Funding is also needed to expand the use of forensic techniques that can be implemented in low-resource settings.
5. Countries with nascent or limited DNA infrastructure require funding to increase testing capacity and build DNA databases, along with training on best practices for properly handling and transporting samples, and maintaining chain of custody.
“In 2019, we met with more than a dozen criminal justice professionals from different nations in Africa on sexual violence and the use of sexual assault kits,” said Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy at RAINN. “Resource shortages were a recurring theme amongst the group. As a result, RAINN has been pushing for Congress to approve aid to address these challenges, and we are pleased to see the administration emphasize the need for robust humanitarian support for victims of sexual violence in conflict zones like DRC as part of their work to end gender-based violence globally.”
“We are grateful to have Dr. Mukwege provide the foreword to the report. In his newly released book, ‘The Power of Women,’ Dr. Mukwege makes a call to action for the world to address the epidemic of sexual violence, especially in the DRC, and to learn from women’s resilience and courage,” said Cooper.